The one where two of my books get a fresh look and a new identity

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

When the idea for my debut novel,  Searching for Steven, came to me, I had no idea whether I had the ability to turn it into an actual book. I enjoyed writing but writing a book was a bit different from writing the questions for a job interview, a case study for a role play or a training course; all part of my day job as an HR Professional. With a lot of false starts, many hours poring over self-help books with my highlighter poised (shh – don’t tell anyone I do that!) and thousands of abandoned words, I made it. And not only had I got to the end of a book but I’d developed a trilogy. Woo hoo! Highly unexpected and very exciting.

A publishing deal followed (after many rejections in case that sounds like it was really easy to secure) and a home for the trilogy was found. My publisher asked if I could pen a short story as a sample of my writing, introducing potential readers to the fictional world of Whitsborough Bay. An idea came to me for the perfect prequel to the series, but I tend to think big when it comes to plot ideas and it became a novella instead of a short story.

Raving About Rhys was released in May 2015, a couple of weeks before Searching for Steven but it was deliberately written as a standalone novella and could be read before or after Steven.  The other two books from the original trilogy – Getting Over Gary and Dreaming About Daran were released in March and August 2016 respectively but, not long after, it all went a bit wrong. My publisher ceased trading and I needed to quickly re-release them as an indie writer, each with a speedily-designed new cover. Once we had more time, each had another new cover designed. Hubby and I never really liked the cover for Raving About Rhys but I was a bit stuck for ideas so we decided to live with it. Within 18 months of being released, Raving About Rhys had had three identities!

Raving About Rhys tells the story of Callie Derbyshire who works in Bay View Care Home, and loves her job, mainly because she adores the residents. Her favourite resident – even though she knows she shouldn’t have favourites – is Ruby, a woman in her mid-eighties with a colourful past and a grandson who may or may not be a figment of her imagination. Out of the many characters I’ve created across my books, Ruby has remained my very favourite (don’t tell the others in case they stop speaking to me!) She’s funny, mischievous and has a fascinating dynamic with fellow-resident, Iris, who she swears is not her friend.

8. Callies Christmas Wish COVERAlthough Raving About Rhys was a complete story in novella format, Ruby stayed with me over the next couple of years so, last year, I decided to write a follow-up. Callie’s Christmas Wish picked up a few months after Raving About Rhys ended and, as well as letting the reader find out whether Callie’s happy ending stayed happy, it revealed the secrets to Ruby’s past. But Rhys was about to get his fourth identity and, this time, it would be more than a change of cover…

Half of my amazing nine-book publishing deal with the fabulous Boldwood Books comes from my back catalogue. Across 2020, the original trilogy will be re-edited, re-titled and re-released but as a four-book series starting with Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish combined into one story.

The brand new title for this combined book is … drum roll please …

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I absolutely love the new title which combines the name of the care home where Callie works with the strong theme of wishes that I originally had. Funnily enough, I toyed with changing the titles of each book in the series last year, wondering if I should go for something a bit more commercial. I came up with a couple of reasonable(ish) titles but kept trying to incorporate ‘care home’ into the replacement title here which just didn’t work. It never entered my head to simply use ‘Bay View’ even though I frequently refer to Bay View Care Home as Bay View throughout the book! I think you can be too close to your own work and it’s lovely to have the objectivity of an editor who can stand back and see different things.

Raving About Rhys is temporarily still available on Amazon but, once that has been linked with Making Wishes at Bay View, he will disappear from sale and only the combined version will be available. Callie’s Christmas Wish has already been unpublished in preparation for this change.

Business Card FRONTAs for the story, what’s changed? Very little. When I wrote Callie’s Christmas Wish,  I needed to incorporate some backstory from Raving About Rhys for the benefit of anyone who hadn’t read Rhys first. Combining the two books meant all of that needed removing because it wasn’t needed anymore. The story itself hasn’t changed at all and we still have the same fabulous cast of characters, including a real treat of a couple more scenes between Ruby and Iris which I loved writing. There’s a bit more detail around the friendship between Callie and her colleague, Maria, and a couple of tweaks to Maria’s storyline but it’s otherwise the same two stories and characters brought together under one book.

So do you need to read Making Wishes at Bay View if you’ve already read Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish?  It’s entirely up to you. If it’s been a while since you’ve read them or you loved the stories so much that you were going to revisit them anyway, you might want to read the fresh version. I know my mum will and so will my sister-in-law, Sue, who has read the whole series several times!

As soon as the cover is finalised, Boldwood will do a reveal and the ARC version of Making Wishes at Bay View will be made available through NetGalley.

Screenshot 2019-06-18 at 09.41.35It’s currently available on pre-order on Amazon here. It’s going to be £1.99 for eBooks across all platforms but Amazon have priced it a little under that at the moment at £1.59 and will adjust this to £1.99 when the other platforms have it up for pre-order and Amazon’s systems price-match. Therefore, if you want to bag a bargain and grab the new version at a slightly cheaper price, zip on over to Amazon right now! As well as other eBook platforms, it will be available on audio and paperback again. I’m thrilled that the same narrator from The Secret to Happiness, Lucy Brownhill, will be recording the whole of the new series so, if you enjoyed that, you’re in for an absolute treat as she’s sticking around. Yay!

The other three books in the series all have brand new names and we’re in the process of editing them too so, if you’re new to my writing and are thinking of buying the series, you might like to hold fire until 2020 when they’ll all be edited and re-released through Boldwood Books. Title reveals coming later.

Hugs and good wishes.

Jessica xx

Here’s the blurb:

Never give up on a wish for a happy ever after…

Callie Derbyshire has it all: her dream job as a carer at Bay View, <i>finally</i> she has found the love of her life. Everything is perfect.

Well, almost.

Ex-partners are insistent on stirring up trouble, and Callie’s favourite resident, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self.

But after discovering the truth about Ruby’s lost love, Callie is determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. After all, it’s never too late to let love in again. Or is it?

A heartwarming and uplifting novel of finding love and friendship in the least expected places from top 10 bestselling author, Jessica Redland.

This book was previously published as two novellas – Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish.

 

When will it ever be enough? A little poem for you

Followers of this blog will have noticed that I haven’t posted for a very long time. That’s not because I haven’t been blogging, but because I launched a new website a couple of years ago and I blog over there, albeit not nearly as often as I should. My website appears to be poorly, though, and while I’m waiting for it to be fixed at IT Hospital, I thought I’d take to my WordPress site because there’s something I want to say.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of a writing collective called The Write Romantics and we celebrated five years together in April. When we formed, a publishing deal was a very distant hope. For some of us, simply fiRaving About Rhys NEW COVERnishing our first book was the more immediate goal and we hadn’t thought much beyond that. Five years later with about 80 books released between us as a combination of indie releases and traditional publishing deals. We share our writing experiences – highs and lows – with each other and one of the things we’ve noticed recently is that we keep shifting the goalposts for ourselves. For example, that book we wanted to write became a book we wanted to have published by a small publisher which became a book that we wanted published by a big publisher. And cracking the top 100k in the Amazon charts became cracking the top 50k, then the top 10k, then … well, I think you get the picture. It can be so easy to keep chasing after the new goals that you forget how far you’ve come.

Yesterday morning, I was thinking about this as I loaded the washing machine (typical Saturday morning exciting task) and a poem started to form with these shifting goalposts in mind and I thought I’d share it…

Never Enough by Jessica Redland

Searching for Steven NEW COVERAll I want is one idea
How difficult could that be?
A plot that has some mileage
That would be enough for me

All I want is to write a book
What an achievement that would be
300 pages, a brand new world
That would be enough for me

All I want is for someone to read it
A friend or family
If they said it was good; that I could write
That would be enough for me

Getting Over Gary NEW COVERAll I want is an eBook publisher
How amazing would that be?
To believe in my story and share my work
That would be enough for me

All I want is to make some sales
Just one, or two, or three
A handful of readers to download to Kindle
That would be enough for me

All I want is some good reviews
How flattering would it be
For strangers to say they love my work?
That would be enough for me

Dreaming About Daran NEW COVERAll I want is to climb the charts
It would make me so happy
To see my ‘baby’ go up and up
That would be enough for me

All I want is a bestseller tag
In some obscure category
That orange flag would scream success
That would be enough for me

All I want is to break the top hundred
I know there’s no guarantee
But then I’d know I’ve got some talent
That would be enough for me

IMG_1212All I want is to be top ten
Can anyone hear my plea?
Side by side with my favourite authors
That would be enough for me

All I want is a number one
I’d barely contain my glee
That coveted slot and all those sales
That would be enough for me

All I want is a paperback
Something I can hold and see
To say “I wrote this”, oh my word
That would be enough for me

Searching for Steven (New Cover Design 3)All I want is to write full time
A lady that lunches? So me!
Full days in my office, creating away
That would be enough for me

All I want is an audio deal
Listening while sipping my tea
Those accents, those sounds, my world brought to life
That would be enough for me

All I want is my books on the shelves
Of a supermarket: big four. Or three
The sales, the success would remove all the stress
That would be enough for me

_MG_4712All I want is a top five publisher
The validation? My pants I would pee!
I’d finally know that I really can write
That would be enough for me

All I want is to make foreign sales
Australia? France? Germany?
Translations galore, the world at my door
That would be enough for me

All I want is the film to be made
The big screen for everyone to see
Amazing reviews, the compliments ooze
That would be enough for me

Charlee and the Chocolate Shop CoverAll I want is an Oscar win
I’d really be top of the tree
Best screenplay? Oh my, I think I would cry
That would be enough for me

All I want is some book two success
And the same for book number three
Doing even better than first out the grid
That would be enough for me

 

All I wanted was one idea
To write a book, just for me
But the goalposts kept changing, my life rearranging
And it’s never enough for me

11163942_10153485965149073_2015482777000081150_nIt’s easy to feel so overwhelmed
When sales aren’t what I’d hoped
And reviews are mean and personal
And very unprovoked
When all the writers that I know
Seem to do so great
And the day job takes priority
So my writing has to wait

 

So it’s back to the start to recapture that feeling
When first I typed “the end”
When someone said, “I loved it!”
Even though they were a friend
Christmas at Carlys Cupcakes CoverWhen I sat at my keyboard and laughed and cried
As my characters found their voices
When the publishing world was unexplored
But filled with exciting choices

The task once seemed impossible:
To write a full-length story
A big fat tick against that goal
I should bask in the glory
That I achieved what many don’t
And repeated it six-fold
I am a writer BECAUSE I WRITE;
Not for how many I’ve sold
I hope you enjoyed it. Granted, I’m no incredible poet (my novels are much better, I promise!) but I thought I’d share this as a reminder for anyone who keeps shifting their own goalposts to remember all the great things you’ve achieved so far – simply writing that first draft being one of them – and enjoy every moment of it instead of constantly reaching for the next goal.

I’m actually in a really good place with my writing at the minute. I’m coming to the end of the first draft of a new full-length novel and I have another shorter one nearly finished. Ideas are forming for a Christmas one and I have other works in progress. I had some successful meetings with editors at the recent RNA conference who are all interested in my latest WIP. Even if it doesn’t lead to anything, it’s been a huge confidence boost.

So, what do you think? Does the poem resonate? Would love to hear your thoughts.

All the best

Jessica xx

If you’re interested in finding out more about my books (or making a sneaky purchase), you can find me on Amazon here.

Trolls aren’t always nasty

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘troll’? Do you revert to your childhood and recall the Three Billy Goats Gruff (Goat’s???) and the troll who lurked under the bridge, waiting to munch on the poor creatures? Or do you think more modern-day and those despicable individuals who hide behind their computers bullying, tormenting, and generally making the lives of others difficult?

When I think of trolls, I don’t think of either of those things. Instead, I think of a very special piece of jewellery: my Trollbeads bracelet.

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It all started at my launch party for Searching for Steven last June. Some of the guests very generously (and most unexpectedly) brought me cards and gifts. Friends of mine, Carrie and Andrew, gave me a leather Trollbeads strap with a lovely little silver charm consisting of a pile of three books. Very appropriate for a writer. I loved it. The only problem was, my little book charm was a little bit lonely on its own. But Christmas was just around the corner.

When I was looking at the Trollbeads to decide which I might like as a Christmas gift, it struck me that I had the opportunity to build a really special bracelet that related purely to my writing journey.

Andrew’s family own a jewellery shop, but it’s closing down. His parents are retiring and Andrew, Carrie and their children are emigrating to Canada so there are some amazing bargains to be had in Sizer Jewellers. I admit that I might have added a little more than my Christmas beads as I only have until the end of this month to bag a discount, with my most recent addition being the silver bracelet and lock that hubby bought me for Valentine’s Day as I was concerned the weight of all the charms might be a problem for the leather strap.

I have beads that summarise my writing: a teddy bear (I started writing Steven when I owned a teddy bear shop and I’d write in the shop on quiet days, plus I have an ‘Easter Egg’ of a teddy bear appearing in every book as a nod to this), the little pile of books, a glass bead with hearts round it (the purple/pink one above) to symbolise me writing romance, and a shell with a heart on it (next to the purple/pink bead) to represent that my setting is by the sea on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast.

_MG_3735-EditI have a bead (or two) to represent each book. In Steven, Sarah runs a florist shop. The orangey-red glass bead on the left has flowers around it and it’s also the colours of the writing on the cover of the novel. Although you probably can’t quite see it in the photo, there’s a silver charm to the left of it made up of flowers.

My second full-length novel (out on 3rd March) is Getting Over Gary. The colour focus for the cover is green so I have a green glass bead. The main character, Elise, has a lime green Beatle (which is why I went for green on the cover) and I have a lovely Beatle charm too.

_MG_3748-EditI didn’t want to forget about my novella, Raving About Rhys. I confess I couldn’t think of an item that symbolised Rhys like flowers symbolised Steven and a Beatle symbolised Gary but I could still go with the colour scheme. Rhys has purples on the front so I went for a purple glass bead.

My final full-length novel of the trilogy isn’t finished yet and it isn’t out until late summer, but Sizer’s won’t be open then so I’ve sort of pre-empted it. The green glass bead that represents Gary also has links with book 3 (working title: Discovering David). David is Clare’s story and Clare is Irish. The green bead appears to have little shamrocks on it. Perfect. But I would still like something else to represent David. I have something in mind, but the stock at Sizer’s is understandably running low so I’m going to need to look elsewhere for that.

_MG_3746-EditIn a really naughty pre-emptive strike, I have also made a purchase that represents my fourth full-length novel: Bear With Me. It’s a polar bear cuddling a baby polar bear and is perfect for the story I have in mind.

I absolutely love my bracelet and have to thank Carrie, Andrew and family for such a thoughtful generous gift that’s kick-started a lovely memento of my writing career. If you’d like to bag yourself a bargain, you can find Sizer’s website at http://www.sizerjewellers.co.uk but don’t leave it long. Closing date is 29th February.

To any writers out there, do you have a collection that you add to each time you write/launch a book? I’d love to hear about it.

Jessica xx

Have you missed me?

Oh my. Is it really two months since I last posted on my blog? That’s quite shocking. It’s been a crazy busy couple of months. Let’s face it, though, it’s been a crazy busy year … several years … decade. I guess that’s how it is when you have a full time job and try to write as well.

Writing-wise, I feel like I’ve hardly put fingers to keyboard recently although I’ve had a few key moments:
1. I attended another library talk. This one was at Filey Library down the coast from my home in Scarborough. There were 12 attendees plus library staff which was a great turn-out and I sold several copies of ‘Searching for Steven‘ which was a huge bonus

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2. I met a lovely new writing friend called Helen Reynolds. Helen is writing a historical series which sounds very exciting. She’s also a social media expert and gave me some great tips and advice

3. I finished my final edits on book 2 of the Whitsborough Bay series – ‘Getting Over Gary’. This was a big thing for me. I’d had very few edits to make for Steven but there were several for Gary including a massive re-think about the way I’d written it. I’d originally told the story from two points of view but it’s now from only one. I fought against changing it at first but am now glad that I have because I think the book is better for it

4. I’ve agreed a revised launch date with my publishers for ‘Getting Over Gary’. Instead of June 2016, it’s going to be launched on 3rd March 2016 with the final book in the trilogy coming out in late summer the same year instead of June 2017 like originally planned. Very exciting. We’re working on the final edits for the cover right now so I’m looking forward to doing a reveal soon

I’ll make this a short one and hopefully find some time for a bit more blogging soon. Thanks for bearing with me xx

Happy Anniversary to Me!

There’s a phrase I often use: “What a difference a day makes“. I’m not sure of the original origin (it didn’t come up on the first page of Google and I was far too lazy to look further), but it’s the title of a few songs, including the lovely Dinah Washington classic so I’ve linked it through to You Tube if you fancy a listen. The song talks about Dinah’s world changing from blue to joyous when the man of her dreams becomes hers. This isn’t usually the context in which I use the phrase myself. I tend to use it more to describe those occasional days that change an aspect of your life. For me, a very life-changing day happened exactly a year ago today (17th September). It was the day that I received my publishing deal from So Vain Books because that email and subsequent phone call made me into the published author I am today.

11312759_890004877705480_5647299591566996495_oAs it happens, I was already on the path to publication because a little over two weeks before, on 1st September, I’d received an offer of a three-book publishing deal with another company. I’d verbally accepted it and was going through the paperwork, but I had one or two concerns. Although they’d said they loved Searching for StevenI got the sense that they wanted to change it quite significantly and I was concerned that it wasn’t going to end up the story that I set out to write. When the offer from SVB came through, my gut instinct told me that they were going to be the better home for Steven and I’ve never for one moment regretted that decision.

So that was a day that made a difference, but it’s really been a year that’s made a difference that I wanted to talk about in this blog post. It’s certainly been an eventful year. In the non-writing part of my life, there’ve been some significant events:

  • _MG_6896Both of my parents have turned 70 (well, Dad turns 70 in two week’s time but it’s nearly within the year!)
  • Our gorgeous cat Pixie lost her battle with diabetes and left us at the young age of nine
  • We took our daughter (seven at the time) on her very first holiday abroad
  • I was made redundant completely unexpectedly, but thankfully walked straight into another job
  • Hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (again, I’m extending the year slightly because it’s actually a week today but that’s close enough between friends, isn’t it?)
  • I re-joined bootcamp and have been rising again at 5.20am three mornings a week for the past year
  • Hubby decided to take his interest in photography to the next level and has grown into an incredibly talented photographer who has taken pictures at his first wedding as well as undertaking his first corporate commission. Very proud!

_MG_5008In the writing part of my life, I can’t believe what’s happened to me! I’ve:

  • Released a novel (Searching for Steven) AND a novella (Raving About Rhys)
  • Peaked at number 399 in the overall Amazon chart with Steven
  • Received x50 reviews for Steven and x33 for Rhys
  • Only got 5-star and 4-star reviews (so far; always preparing myself for that first 1-star review and promising myself I won’t sob for hours when it appears!)
  • Been a contributor to an anthology of short stories (Winter Tales), raising money for Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust
  • Appeared in the local press: The Scarborough News, The Yorkshire Coast, The Scarborough Review, and The Scarborough Comet
  • Talked and signed books at two libraries, and secured talks at two others
  • 1972459_10153485966594073_1735178700762728074_nHad Steven stocked across North Yorkshire Libraries
  • Got Waterstones to stock Steven in the Scarborough branch
  • Had a launch party attended by lots of incredibly supportive and lovely friends and family
  • Had a blue plaque named for me (OK, so it was a DIY-special courtesy of my dad but it’s still pretty special!)
  • Finished my second novel, Getting Over Gary (well, it will be finished within two weeks as that’s deadline time)
  • Planned my second novella. (Confession: when I say ‘planned’, I mean there’s an idea in my head and I’ll just run with that and see where it takes me, but I took the same approach with Rhys and it worked so let’s hope second time will work too!)

Blue PlacqueYes, what a difference a year makes! I still find it hard to believe that I’m a published author. It still doesn’t feel real. I wonder if it ever will. Thank you so very much to everyone who has supported me over the last year and before that too. Thank you So Vain Books for taking a chance on me, thank you to everyone who has bought/read/reviewed Steven and all those who’ve promoted and recommended it to their friends and family. You’re amazing, every last one of you. I’ve been touched and overwhelmed by how supportive some people have been. I’ll admit I’ve also been very disappointed at the lack of support from some people who I thought would have been pleased for me and passed word on. If you’re a prolific Facebook user, how difficult is it to like and share a post and say something like “My friend wrote this. I’m not a reader myself but if any of my FB friends are, it’s got great reviews so why not give it a go?” I’d certainly have done that if roles had been reversed. I won’t dwell on this, though, as this is a happy post and the non-supporters are absolutely in the minority. Plus it’s their choice. I just thought …. *slaps wrist and tells self to stop dwelling on it* Thank you to North Yorkshire Libraries for their support, particularly Sharon Houghton from Eastfield Library, and to Waterstones for ordering copies of Steven. Huge thanks to my mum, Joyce Williams, who has left postcards on noticeboards whilst on holiday, and talked so many of her village residents into buying a signed copy of the paperback. Thanks to The Write Romantics for their eternal support. And finally thanks to hubby and the munchkin for letting me disappear into my world of imaginary friends on a regular basis without moaning that I’m neglecting them xxx

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings …

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An audience with …

me, actually! This afternoon, I had a half day’s holiday from the day job so that I could deliver my second ever library talk. It was the first one I booked but the idea was to run it during one of the library’s book club sessions and they were hoping to have the book club a bit more established by now (it had only just set up when we first discussed me talking).

12006291_10153717292059073_2813299575419794276_nEastfield Library is a small library in an area just outside Scarborough. It’s actually my local library and I have strong links with it. My mother-in-law volunteers on the library van, my daughter is a member and regularly borrows books, and I took my Brownie pack there to do their book lover badge last term.

I’d been really pleased with the turnout of 12 (plus organiser) at the first talk I did at the main Scarborough Library, but I suspected we wouldn’t be drawing those numbers today. I was pleasantly surprised to have an audience of 7 … although 4 of those were library staff or volunteers and only 3 were ‘general public’. Still, it was a lovely size audience.

When I arrived, I spotted Searching for Steven propped up on a table promoting today’s event, in its plastic cover. It was lovely seeing it like that, knowing it is available to be borrowed. I wonder how many people will borrow it.

The talk went well and I made sure it was a bit shorter than last time as I’d struggled for time for questions. Two of the external guests, one of the volunteers and two of the library staff stayed behind afterwards for a cuppa and a chat which I really enjoyed. One of them bought a copy of Raving About Rhys which I have available exclusively for family, friends, prizes and events (it’s officially only available on eBook) and another said she would borrow it from the library as it’s not her usual genre but she wanted to give it a try.

What was interesting was that I asked the question of my audience about the genres they like and nobody favoured romance. I therefore feel particularly flattered that they’ve come out to hear me talk when my book isn’t the sort they’d typically pick up.

A question arose about how I publicised myself and where I gave talks. It reminded me that I’d made contact with the WI about being a guest speaker and hadn’t heard a thing back from them. One of the library volunteers said she had lots of contacts in the WI and also Countryside Women (or something similar to that) so was going to get in touch with me with the best people to contact to get a response. That was a good success.

I now have a headache. A combination of a sleepless night, a 5.20am start for a very hard fit test at bootcamp, half a day’s work, and a library talk have taken it out of me and the paracetemol I took an hour ago haven’t touched it. My day isn’t over though as it’s Brownies tonight. It’s actually the first Brownies of term which means noise and excitement. I suspect I may make it home from that and crawl under the duvet, desperate for sleep!

Is being predictable a bad thing?

My debut novel, Searching for Steven, was released three weeks ago today and my novella, Raving About Rhys, was released a few weeks before that. It’s been exciting watching the reviews come in. Some have been from friends and family, but many have been from strangers which is extra exciting. Having someone I don’t know read my work and say lovely things about it is quite an incredible feeling and I’m ever so grateful to those readers and bloggers who’ve taken the time to post a review. So far, nearly all of my Amazon reviews have been five star, with a few at four star. Eek!

_MG_0221The purpose of this blog post isn’t to witter on about my reviews, though. It’s to pick up on something I’ve read in a couple of them that I’ve also noticed in reviews of novels by other authors: a suggestion that the story is predictable. It’s something I find a little odd when relating to a romance story because surely all romances are predictable. By this I mean they follow a standard formula: girl meets boy, falls in love, and they live happily ever after. Okay, so that wouldn’t make a gripping page-turner so there needs to be an additional element. Sometimes girl loves boy, but he doesn’t know she exists … at first. Sometimes girl loves boy but he’s with someone else. Perhaps they get together, but something separates them: illness, distance, pride, a misunderstanding … the possibilities are endless. But the basic premise is that we know our hero and heroine are going to get together because that’s what a romance novel is all about.

There are several notable exceptions to the happy ever after: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and a heck of a lot of Nicholas Sparks novels where the hero doesn’t manage to make it out of the book alive and the reader needs shares in Kleenex and Galaxy to get through to the end. For the vast majority of romance novels, though, we meet the heroine, we meet the hero, and we know they’re going to get their HEA. What makes the story interesting is the HOW. How will they get together? What conflicts will they face? What obstacles will they overcome? Every author and every story has a slightly different take on this which is why avid readers of romance novels, like myself, read book after book and don’t get bored by the genre.

I suppose you could argue that crime novels are predictable too: crimes are committed and ultimately the criminal is caught and (hopefully) brought to justice. There will be challenges along the way e.g. the police get the wrong person, they’re in the wrong place and another crime/murder is committed, and so on but, ultimately, the crime is solved. Again, there are notable exceptions but, as I haven’t read quite as many crime novels, I can’t name them as easily as the romance ones! Do readers think crime novels are predictable because they also follow a formula?

_MG_0218Or am I missing the point? Are the comments about predictability not about the overall plot, but more about a specific aspect of one of the sub-plots? I’d love to know. But therein lies the cardinal rule of reviews: you can’t comment on them. On the one or two reviews of mine where the word ‘predictable’ was mentioned, I was dying to comment and ask the reviewer what aspect they felt was predictable as all feedback is good feedback and I want to learn from it, but I knew I’d unintentionally sound defensive if I asked. And it’s not the done thing to ask. Believe me, I’ve seen case studies online where people have challenged reviews and it’s not pretty. I know there are some great twists and turns in both the novel and the novella, but maybe there’s something that is a little obvious and that’s what they mean. I’m not offended in any way; just curious. What’s really lovely is that it was made very clear that the readers still loved the book and that the predictable element, whatever it was, certainly didn’t detract from their enjoyment. Phew! So perhaps I should just accept the positive comments, the great ratings, and not worry about that one little word.

What do you think? Are romance novels predictable? Does it matter? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jessica xx

I’m so excited! I just can’t hide it …

Two weeks ago today, I was sitting at home, surrounded by soggy tissues, reeling in the news that I’d just been made redundant. Despite that little black cloud, this last two weeks has been absolutely amazing. To quote the Sister Sledge song, I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it …

_MG_5012For many years now, I’ve dreamed of becoming a published writer. I’ve dreamed of holding a paperback in my hands that I’ve written. I’ve dreamed of reading five-star reviews written by people I don’t know rather than friends and family. And all of those dreams have come true. Eek!

Other than the slight hiccup I mentioned in the last blog post where my books didn’t materialize in time for my launch party, I’ve loved every minute of the experience.

Some highlights I’d like to pick out include:

  • My 8-year-old walking into my bedroom on launch day and singing “Happy Launch Day to you …” (to the tune of Happy Birthday to You). She’s been so proud and excited, it’s quite touching to observe
  • My novella, Raving About Rhys, peaking at number 249 in the free Kindle chart and number 34 in romantic comedy. I never imagined getting that high. I know it was down to a free promotion, but it was still an exciting moment
  • The amazing messages of support I received from friends and family on Facebook when I was really upset about my books not being sent in time for the launch party, reassuring me that they were just so thrilled and excited for me and didn’t mind the lack of book. I’m so grateful to each and every one of them
  • _MG_4988Some amazing four and five star reviews from people I don’t know. Here’s a selection of quotes from Searching for Steven reviews:
    • “I am now officially a fan of Jessica Redland and can compare her with authors like Sophie Kinsella, Jenny Colgan and Claudia Carroll. Here’s to another great women’s fiction writer on the block…” Bleachhouselibrary. Wow! To be compared to some of my favourite authors … I’m lost for words!
    • “This book has a narrative that flows and keeps the reader intrigued, you feel for the characters in a way that they feel like your family and your there beside there with them. Fantastic Debut” Em
    • “I liked this book so much. It’s a wonderful, heartwarming story … Searching for Steven is a book that will put a smile on your face and happiness in your heart. It’s a definite must-read, because of the original story, the sympathetic characters, the beautiful setting and most of all the magical feeling of true love. I liked the creative aspect and the quest to find the one. This is a lovely feel-good book and one of the best romantic stories I’ve read in quite a while. It’s a light, cheerful quality read that I enjoyed very much” Suzanne Lavender
    • “Perfect for the beach of for fans of a Jill Mansell style” Miss S A Coles. Jill Mansell was my inspiration for writing romantic comedy as she was the first romcom writer whose work I read. Again, wow!
  • Raving About Rhys has gathered a phenomenal seventeen five-star reviews and three four-star ones which makes me smile so much. Here’s one of my favourites by Nic, although there are loads of other wonderful ones I could easily have chosen: “Loved this! Loved the style of writing and can easily relate to the characters. I couldn’t put it down. I ordered the next book Searching for Steven and I’m loving that too! Can’t wait for the next one! I’m thinking I have a new favourite authoress 🙂 Thank you Jessica!” Awwww. That’s just so lovely! I’m so thrilled that people I don’t know are reading my writing and loving it. And they care enough about it to take the time to write a review. It really is touching.
  • Having my box of books arrive a couple of days ago. Hubby is a talented photographer and he set up a little photo shoot in the conservatory which was fun. What an amazing feeling to be surrounded by piles of my books!

_MG_5008The one thing that has surprised me about the whole experience is how relaxed I am about sales figures and chart positions. I check on Amazon every day or so, out of curiosity, to see my chart positions but I’m not obsessed with it. I know from other writing friends that it can be easy to get fixated on them, but I’ve realised there’s no point. Sometimes a book can be at position number 12,000 and, the next day, it’s dropped 35,000 places. One bit of advice from my lovely writing pal, Jo Bartlett, has really stuck with me throughout the process and I think this is what makes me so calm about it: It’s long-haul. Those who appear to become an overnight success probably aren’t really an overnight success and they’re few and far between. For most of us, it will take several books and several years before we can make a full-time career out of writing … if at all. And that’s fine. Why? Because I write for the love of it; not because I want to be rich and famous. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a bestseller (or several!) but I write because I love it and I have stories I want to share. I couldn’t imagine life without writing. As far as sales figures go, I can’t obsess about these because I don’t have direct access to that information. This is probably a good thing.

It’s my last day in the day job tomorrow as my company have granted me gardening leave. I’m looking forward to having a couple of weeks off to edit book 2, work a bit more on book 3, and probably do some gardening too as there’s a serious dandelion situation going on out there! I’m expecting positive job news so I’m not worried about the loss of the day job so I’m in a good place work-wise. I’m in an even better place book-wise. I really am living the dream and want to enjoy every single moment of this. I read an interesting article the other day about how it’s really easy for writers to forget to celebrate their successes under the pressure of sales figures, chart positions, editing and so on and we should really take a moment to celebrate the many little successes, whether that be writing a great scene, finishing a chapter, getting a great review, or writing a well-structured blog post. Raise that metaphorical glass of champers and smile because, fellow writers, you’ve achieved your dreams and that’s a truly amazing thing 🙂

My Crazy Week of Job Loss & Book Launch

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Jessica Redland - Searching for Steven - Front Cover LOW RESOh my goodness, what a roller coaster of a week I’ve had full of highs and lows, twists and turns!

Morning of Monday 1st June – LOW – I work flexible hours in the day job and normally take a Monday off, working the rest of my full time hours across longer days for the rest of the week. As I had Wed-Fri booked off as holiday to enjoy my book launch, my manager suggested I came in on Monday instead and took my flex day on the Tuesday, giving me four days off on the trot. I’d been out the previous week running a training workshop and she’d been on holiday so I was expecting our 10am meeting to be a catch-up and handover while I had the rest of the week off. Instead, I got made redundant! I completely and utterly had not seen that one coming! Last year, there’d been a bit of a cost savings and restructuring exercise and we’d been assured that HR weren’t being looked at and there’d been no redundancies. Hmm. I got really upset in the meeting because of the shock of it. Thankfully I was allowed to go home to come to terms with the news.

P1060369Afternoon of Monday 1st June – HIGH – Hubby picked me up from work and took me into town to collect a parcel we’d missed. I expected this to be my box of books which seemed very ‘one door closes and another opens’ but it wasn’t books. It was something equally fabulous, though – my very own Steven Bear from lovely writing friends Jo, Sharon and Alys. I love him.

Evening of Monday 1st June – HIGH – I’m a Brown Owl and, to celebrate the launch, we’d decided to complete our Booklover and Writer badges as a pack this term. I’d pulled together a short PowerPoint presentation for the Brownies followed by a creative writing workshop. I wasn’t sure how well this would work but it went down a storm with lots of questions and the creative juices flowing.

Tuesday 2nd June – LOW – Reality hit that I was out of work yet again and I felt so hurt at the timing. It was meant to be the week of my life and my employer had started it by making me redundant. I’d wanted to spend the Tuesday feeling all excited as it was, after all, book launch eve. Instead, I was job hunting.

CoversWednesday 3rd June – HIGH – Searching for Steven was launched (buy it here)! What an incredibly exciting day. I seemed to spend it solidly on social media, thanking people for supporting me, and grinning from ear to ear. I had a well attended Facebook launch party on the evening and I went to bed very, very happy

Thursday 4th June – HIGH – The high continued with more excitement around Steven but also around my novella. To celebrate Steven‘s launch, Raving About Rhys (buy it here) went on a three-day free promotion and was climbing the charts as well as gathering some amazing reviews. By the end of the promotion, I’d got to number 203 in the free Kindle chart on Amazon and number 26 in the romantic comedy chart. I was thrilled about it.

P1060374Another fabulous thing that happened that day was that hubby disappeared out and then returned with a set of three canvasses for me – the cover of each book, and a dedication canvas including a quote he’d recently seen in a film: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” by Mark Twain. It feels so apt for me and my writing. It made me cry!

Friday 5th June – LOW – I received the devastating news that our printers had let us down. Despite expecting a box of books earlier in the week, it turns out they’d had problems with their binding equipment and hadn’t even printed my books. I was having a launch party the next day with nearly 100 guests, many of whom would have travelled long distances, and they weren’t going to get a copy of my book. I have to say, I was absolutely distraught. At one point, I even wanted to cancel the party, but my lovely hubby gave me lots of hugs and encouragement. I posted a private message on Facebook to  friends and family explaining what had happened and the outpouring of support and understanding was really quite overwhelming. I was genuinely touched at how proud people were of me and how excited they were to be coming to the book launch, with or without the inclusion of books!

11401385_10206847816496801_2560504648333263427_nSaturday 6th June – HIGH – Launch party day had arrived and what an amazing day it was. My publisher had managed to send me their two sample books by special delivery. These had a page missing and a few errors but it was a thrilling moment opening the box and putting my paws on a copy of my paperback for the first time. I’d have captured it on film but I was still in my PJs with no make-up on so that wouldn’t have been a good look!

The party was fabulous. The only downside is that I needed it to go on about ten times as long as I tried my best but it was impossible to get round everyone. I had family, old friends, new friends, former work colleagues, writing friends and it was so lovely to have everyone together to celebrate this unique occasion.

I have so many people to thank for making the day so special: hubby and munchkin, my sister-in-law Vanessa for the amazing cupcakes and cake (which I completely forgot to cut and hand out!), my mum for the scones, biscuits and caramel shortbread (nom nom), The Scarborough Anglers Social Club for such a friendly/flexible venue, Jon Mancrief for a delicious buffet, and everyone for coming. I got cards, flowers and gifts which was very unexpected. And people paid for books too! I really appreciate all your support and your positive comments. You’ve helped make a horrendous start to the week with a few dips along the way, end on a high xxx

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NEWS FLASH! Raving About Rhys is FREE!!!

CoversSearching for Steven was launched on Wednesday this week (buy him here) and it’s been an amazing couple of days having my dream come true. I’m going to blog about that in the next few days, but I wanted to write a quick post today to promote my novella, Raving About Rhys.

11411854_873568086015826_6774707983694355485_oTo celebrate Steven‘s launch, we’re offering Raving About Rhys for Kindle download absolutely free. Yes, you read that right … FREE! Wow! That means you can buy two large bars of chocolate or a couple of huge bags of Maltesers to eat while you read it and still have change left over from a fiver! You can find him here.

My husband, bless him, has become very excited and perhaps a little obsessed with watching Rhys climb the charts on Amazon today. The peak so far has been to reach number 249 in the free Kindle chart and number 34 in the romantic comedy chart which is apparently a really tough chart to move up so I’m absolutely thrilled at that.

Rhys will only be on promotion for a short time so please bag a bargain (is it still called a bargain if it’s free?), enjoy a read that’s been gathering lots of amazing 5-star reviews, and please spread the word to anyone you know who has an eReader or a smart phone with a Kindle App! My mission is to get into the Top 100 overall chart and Top 10 romantic comedy before the promo ends. Can you help me do it?

Thank you to everyone who has downloaded Rhys, and  particularly thank you to friends, family and the lovely Write Romantics who’ve shared Facebook posts and Tweeted about it. I really appreciate the support 🙂 xx